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It's Not My Fault My Legs Won't Work!

by Bobby Bruno  
5/29/2014 / Bible Studies

In this paper I will conduct an inductive Bible study on Leviticus 21:17-18 which reads: "Tell Aaron: If any of your descendants (now or in future generations) has a physical defect, he must never bring food to offer to God. 18 Indeed, no one who has a physical defect may ever come near {the altar}. That means anyone who is blind or lame, who has a disfigured face, a deformity" (GW).

First, I observe that this law seems a little harsh on the surface, but when looked at in more detail I will find just what God truly meant by this law. Moses is to instruct Aaron, the chief Priest, about this law. Since this is presented to the chief Priest, we must assume that the law is meant for those who serve God in the Temple. God is saying that He doesn't want anyone with a bodily defect to even go near the altar of sacrifice, not then or at any other time in the future. Is it that God doesn't want anything impure to mar the holiness of the altar? How did this make those who had a defect feel? It sounds as if God is saying that these people aren't worthy enough to stand before the altar of sacrifice. Still, since we know that God loves all of His people, there must be a deeper interpretation that will show exactly how God feels about this issue.

When I consult my Bible commentaries, I find that marring the holiness of the service is correct. The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary tells us that "As visible things exert a strong influence on the minds of men, any physical infirmity or malformation of body in the ministers of religion, which disturbs the associations or excites ridicule, tends to detract from the weight and authority of the sacred office." Seeing these disfigured workers would make the populace focus on the defect and not on the reason they came to sacrifice. Even today we get turned off by anyone with a facial or visible disfigurement. On this scripture Adam Clarke in his commentary states "A deformed person, though consummate in diplomatic wisdom, would never be employed as an ambassador by any enlightened court, if any fit person, unblemished, could possibly be procured." But just because these people are disfigured could they not still serve a purpose in the Temple? According to Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, "Priests laboring under any personal defect were not allowed to officiate in the public service; they might be employed in some inferior duties about the sanctuary but could not perform any sacred office." So, we see that those with a disfigurement could still serve in the Temple, just not in positions of sacred authority where they would be seen by others in the forefront of the service they would be performing.

We can correlate Leviticus 21:17-18 with the purity of the sacrificial animal. Even the sheep, bird, goat, or bull had to be free from any kind of defect whether bodily or even whether their hides were marked in unpleasing ways. In Exodus 12:5 God says "Your lamb or kid shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; you shall take it from the sheep or the goats (AMP). In Exodus 29:1 God again states "THIS IS what you shall do to consecrate (set them apart) that they may serve Me as priests. Take one young bull and two rams, all without blemish (AMP). This can even be correlated further with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our perfect, unblemished lamb who took upon Himself the sins of the world, as 1 Peter 1:19 says "Rather, the payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ, the lamb with no defects or imperfections" (GW). As had the scapegoat in the days of the Temple sacrifices would be set free after the Priest had placed the sins of the people upon its head and set loose never to be see again, Jesus had our sins placed on His head. But unlike the scapegoat, Jesus rose again and freed us all form carrying our debt for those sins.

What this all means to me is that I need to continue to strive to be the unblemished man that Jesus is expecting of me. I need to stop the areas of my life where I am not being holy. To accomplish this, I need to continue to turn my issues over to the Holy Spirit so that He can help me get rid of my areas of "disfigurement" in my life. I realize that I will not be perfect until the Lord comes and takes me home, but I also know that Jesus is aware of my issues, is working on them even behind the scenes, and will one day free me of them, whether that freedom comes on earth or in Heaven. Still, with all my foibles, failures, and stumbles, Jesus uses me in places I never thought I could be used. Jesus looks passed my "disfigurements" and sees the potential that He had placed in me long before my birth. Matthew Henry says it best for me when he said "Our bodily infirmities, blessed be God, cannot now shut us out from his service, from these privileges, or from his heavenly glory. Many a healthful, beautiful soul is lodged in a feeble, deformed body. And those who may not be suited for the work of the ministry, may serve God with comfort in other duties in his church." Amen.


Clarke, A. (2004). Adam clarke's commentary on the old testament. Database 2004WORDsearch Corp.

Henry, M. (2011). Matthew henry concise bible commentary. Database 2011 WORDsearch Corp.

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A., Brown, D. (2012). jamieson, fausset, and brown commentary. Database 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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